DERRY and Strabane Rural Partnership is investing £1.8m of funding in 13 village projects to deliver environmental improvements and transform neglected spaces into thriving recreational facilities for the health and wellbeing of local communities.
The Village Renewal Scheme, delivered under Priority 6 (LEADER) of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, is helping local communities to create new or refurbish existing play park facilities and develop new shared use walking and cycling pathways.
It will also deliver a range of environmental improvements that will contribute to the regeneration of civic facilities including new public spaces, landscaping, interpretation panels and welcome signage into the villages.
Speaking about the investment, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, councillor Brian Tierney, said: “Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership’s Village Renewal Scheme has allocated over £1.2m to help 13 local villages transform their recreational and leisure infrastructure to significantly boost physical activity and play in our rural areas – with council providing match funding of over £500,000, bringing total investment up to nearly £1.8 million.
“The new play park provisions and green spaces will provide recreation and leisure facilities for children to play, walking and cycling routes for residents and visitors, and places for families and friends to come together, helping to improve the health and wellbeing of our local communities.
“The environmental improvements of a number of civic spaces will also help revitalise a number of villages and restore a sense of pride for local residents by making their communities more attractive as places to live.”
The funded projects include the £350,000 regeneration of semi-derelict land in Newtownstewart that has transformed the space into an attractive 3,000m2 play provision for the local community that caters for sensory and physical activities.
A £309,793 investment in the development of a 1.1km of new shared use walking and cycling pathways in Castlederg will open up 11 acres of greenspace for increased community use.
Newbuildings received £256,600 to enhance walking and exercise infrastructure for the community, as well as open space for hosting public events.
Sion Mills has secured £261,170 for the installation of a brand-new all-ability play area that will bring a derelict site back into community use and enhance the rural environment.
Four small regeneration projects in Clady, Claudy, Killeter and Park and four small green space projects in Ardstraw, Artigarvan, Donemana and Drumahoe were also awarded funding aimed at making the villages more attractive places to live.
A further project in Plumbridge is already complete, revitalising a vacant site to provide a new space for the local playgroup following devastation caused by flooding in 2017.
Mary Hunter, chair of the Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership (LAG), who administer the Rural Development Programme funding for the region, added: “We are delighted to be able to support villages across Rural Derry and Strabane.
“The enhanced leisure and community facilities will utilise natural spaces to address a real lack of appropriate recreation and play provisions, especially for young people and children, and in doing so undoubtedly improve the quality of life of those living within the villages.
“The small environmental improvement works will contribute to the physical and social regeneration of the villages creating pride in the area and a sense of identity for the community.”
The Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-20 is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the European Union (DAERA).
The LEADER Fund is administered by Derry City and Strabane District Council on behalf of Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership.